Sunday, November 1, 2015

Pearce Super-PAC Muscles into Municipal Election - Why?

Why is a PAC backed by Steve Pearce attacking Las Cruces candidates with misleading ads? In trying to influence the city election, why did it not even register as a PAC with the city? And why do monied interests elsewhere want to influence city council elections? 

Las Crucens should care who's mayor here. Las Crucens should care who's on the City Council. County residents, myself included, have reason to care too.

But why should oil-and-gas interests from Hobbs tell us how to vote here? Why should a super-PAC attack local candidates such as Kasandra Gandara and Ken Miyagashima?

“GOAL West PAC” has a Hobbs address. Pearce has donated some of his excess campaign funds to the PAC, and his brother Phillip is its Treasurer. 

Many citizens have recently received the PAC's mailers. 

So far, the content is pretty lame. For example, Kassanda Gandara is a mother (son a veteran, daughter in med school) who started as a PTO member fighting for her kids, and also became a social worker – but the oil-and-gas PAC calls her “a lifelong bureaucrat.” (To me, a “bureaucrat” shuffles papers. A social worker affecting people's lives, like a law enforcement officer or doctor, does something more, even if employed by the public, (As Pearce is.) Another mailer uses a funny picture of Mayor Miyagashima and talks about “lipstick on a pig.” (Las Cruces is the “pig”; the “lipstick” means comments that Las Cruces is a great place to live. Which I think it is.) The mailer blathers about “small business” without suggesting any real ideas – except that we shouldn't increase the minimum wage.

It's negative campaigning. By ousiders with money. Based on the old premise that if you repeat something long enough people will eventually believe it. And it could get uglier right at the end.

I don't much want Steve Pearce telling me whom to vote for. I don't give a rat's posterior what Pearce or his brother has to say about Ken Miyagashima. It even seems a little arrogant that no one even bothered to use the available legal methods to obscure Pearce's connection with the PAC a little, to make at least some effort to blunt the naked truth that Steve Pearce figures he can tell us whom to elect to local office.

This is the same Steve Pearce who played chicken with shutting down the government and helped cost us all billions ($1 billion in interest alone) merely to make abstract ideological points. Same Pearce who's ex-military but has a miserable record on veterans' issues. Same guy who's trying to cut back on public lands because they're inconvenient for the interests who fund his campaigns – and because he thinks government should be minimized at every turn, no matter how that harms us.
Ironically, the PAC blames Miyagashima for southern New Mexico's economic problems; but who could have done more in recent years to improve New Mexico's economy: Miyagashima (with one vote on a city council) or Steve Pearce and his ally Susana Martinez? Hi, Steve! 

If I lived in the City I'd be tempted to vote against the Pearce candidates, Miguel Silva and Eli Guzman, just to send Pearce a message. (There are other reasons.)

Guzman and fellow Chamber of Commerce endorsee Hall stiffed the Las Cruces Sun-News candidate forums. They preferred to avoid probing questions from journalists but let the Chamber (or Pearce and his big-money folks) send out misleading flyers attacking their opponents. You can't ask a flyer hard questions.

A vote for Guzman, Hall, or Van Veen is an implicit approval of running for office that way.

[The column above appeared in the Las Cruces Sun-News this morning, Sunday, 1 November, and will also appear later today on the KRWG-TV website.]
[I wrote this while traveling, and sent it in Tuesday, and of course lots has been published since then on this subject.  This is simply politics at its worst: an oil company and a few rich folks, all from far beyond the borders of our county, paying to spread misleading attack ads against local candidates here.  It's a hate-group ultimately controlled by Hobbs's U.S. Congressman, Steve Pearce, who's developing an interesting habit of trying to meddle in local politics.  Sad.  Sadder if it succeeds in outweighing the will of the actual citizens of Las Cruces.  Should add fuel to the anti-Pearce fire in Las Cruces next year; but as I recall, he lost the Las Cruces portion of the 2014 vote to a gutsy, hard-working neophyte.   Folks here generally see him for what he is already.]
[For the record: I hope Miyagashima wins re-election.  I don't always agree with him, but I've found him reasonably candid with me and I think the City is generally doing some good things -- and getting attacked viciously for it.  I like Miguel personally; but I see no reason to believe he'd be a better mayor than Ken; his charter-breaking misconduct (along with other councilors) regarding minimum wage doesn't entitle him to a promotion, and the big bucks and energy of the super-PAC and the Chamber of Commerce on his behalf suggest he'd be their mayor, not the people's.  Ms. Montoya-Ortega seems a nice lady, possibly well-intentioned, and if she indeed wants to help Las Cruces perhaps she'll get more involved in local government and politics than she has been in the past.  She has shown no experience, education, or new ideas that should excite anyone about the idea of making her mayor. 
District 1? Kasandra Gandara, whom I haven't yet met, seems the far stronger candidate than Eli Guzman, whom I've only spoken to on the phone.  Gandara has done good things as a social worker, eventually got promoted to oversee a five-county region, and started as a mother fighting for her kids' education.  Guzman is personally appealing, as a local kid teaching martial arts, but he reacted badly to the effort by city codes enforcement folks to ensure that the new dojo he was building would be safe.   Further, it's hard not to assume that based on his loud opposition to freedom of choice for women wouldn't lead him to help with efforts to initiate a local anti-choice vote along the lines of the one that wasted time and money in Albuquerque.  (I hear such an effort is likely, but don't actually know so for a fact.)  
District 2? This is the closest we have to a reasonable race.  I'd vote for Greg Smith.  Reluctantly, because his conduct regarding the minimum-wage issue was not to his credit and his failure to speak out against the recall effort more vigorously was a failure to stand up for Las Cruces when it counted.  However, he does really care about improving Las Cruces, has done some things to actually improve it, and has the energy and experience to continue making a real contribution as councilor.  Philip Van Veen strikes folks (including me, during our one brief conversation) as more thoughtful than some of the Chamber-of-Commerce candidates; but I've seen and heard nothing from him that suggests he'd be anywhere near as useful and productive a councilor as Smith has been.  It's also not clear to me that he cares about aspects of the city other than making things easier for businesses and developers, or has the experience or perspective to do much good.  Maybe.  But Greg Smith can be counted on to think hard and work hard on a variety of issues that come before the council.
District 4: Jack Eakman has the background and perspective to be a very good councilor.  If the alternative is a Tea Party denizen who loathes Obama, loves Pearce, and didn't even dare show up to visit with Sun-News journalists, there's no serious alternative.  (Voting for Gilbert Vasquez would be a wasted vote, since he'd be legally precluded from taking office.) ]

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